I missed seeing it directly as I was a few seconds too early and further along the platform. But close enough, and too close for the aftermath – a disfigured, crumpled body underneath one of the subway cars toward the rear of the train.
I stayed for some minutes, pointed out the body to the crew and cops who just arrived. I realized – curiously they did not – that it would be easier to find by crossing over to the downtown platform where it was easily visible. The crowds came. I called work to say I needed some time, went for a walk through Chelsea and finally up to Grand Central for my usual commute.
Within minutes of the accident, the smartphones came out but now that I think about it, I was there first and didn’t take a photo even though I had the clearest view. Eventually I took a couple but I couldn’t focus myself. I turned and walked away. Cameras are easy, feelings a world unto themselves.
I understand the need to record death in Syria and other countries where publicizing it may build support to bring down a tyrannical regime. In parts of the world, ghastly atrocities go undocumented. In some cases, I almost wish for images of death, images that would show the world what some people live through every day of their lives. But I do not understand it here, on a subway platform, when it serves no purpose.
I’ve seen death before, but never so vividly, this close to home. On a route that I’ll use tomorrow and in the days to come. As I walked through the city, the flood of questions, thoughts and emotions was difficult to handle. Did she intentionally kill herself? Was she pushed? Did she stumble? The latest report is that she was despondent. I’m sure we’ll have answer, though in the end, it only touches the surface.
Standing there a few hours ago, it was hard to think that someone woke up this morning, did whatever they do to be part of the world that day, and ended the morning as a bloody heap of flesh and bone underneath a subway car.
It also makes you think about the ebb and flow of life in a densely populated urban environment. How close one can be to death and completely miss it. By seconds, literally. And the crowd that quickly formed . . . . some visibly shaken and others pushing just to get a look. The frustration of people outside the station, and up and down the Seventh Ave. line. No trains, disrupted schedules and plans that are all important. Until it is someone they know.
And then you wonder about the other lives affected. How her friends and family are dealing with the loss.
It makes you cherish the moments we take for granted, moments of just being alive. As I walked through the city, I was struck by the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze of an almost fall morning, even the firmness of the concrete under my feet. This began as a difficult day, listening to the names being read on the radio for the 9/11 memorial service as I got ready for work. It got worse once I left the house.
I know it will be better.